Photos / Review: Texas Independence Fest 2017 in Austin, Texas

Who: Texas Independence Fest 2017 – Anthrax, Driven Below, Fire From The Gods, Forever in Disgust, Killswitch Engage, Oh, Sleeper, Psychostick, Shattered Sun, The Devil Wears Prada, The Night Of, Violent Vendetta

Where: Come and Take It Live, Austin, Texas

When: April 15, 2017

Texas Independence Fest is an annual event in Austin that began in 2008, and has only been growing since. Put on by Come and Take It Productions, it is a highly anticipated event that most metal-heads are grateful for, especially those in Austin. Many tours will hit big cities like Houston or Dallas, but skip Austin despite it being the “Live Music Capital of the World.” However, with the emergence of a new venue with a larger capacity, Come and Take It Live, there has already been an increase in bigger shows stopping by here. This year’s TIF was headlined by the one and only Anthrax, a staple in the foundation of any modern rocker.

Austin locals The Night Of  opened for the festival and kicked things off with their fresh sound. The amount of people already in the venue supporting them was also a pleasant sight. Halfway through their set, lead vocalist Chance McDonald went down into the crowd to sing, and people immediately took their phones out to document it. TNO was a perfect opener for the festival, as they eased people in for the heavier bands. The band’s newest single, “Set Me Free,” can be heard on their Ernie Ball PLAY Warped Tour page.

Next up was Violent Vendetta, a metal band from Big Spring, Texas. It was still early in the afternoon, but they really set the mood for the festival and put on a lively performance that would prepare the crowd for what was to come. During their set, people were already jumping around and embracing the festival with open arms.

Things got heavy when Forever in Disgust came out to play, and they were clearly having a great time along with the crowd. It was around this time when people were fully amped and ready to take on the rest of the festival.

Driven Below was about to take the stage, and the first thing I noticed was just how extensive drummer David Osbourn’s kit was. The crowd noticed too, and started piling in to see the beauty of it (and to see the band perform, of course). Driven Below’s set could be described as creepy, but enticing at the same time. Every song was intriguing and left you wanting to hear more. Their new album, Trephination, was just released.

Austin natives Fire From The Gods played a show that many had been anticipating. They released their album Narrative, last year and have hit the ground running ever since. Vocalist AJ Channer went into the crowd to sing and people gathered to join him. Bassist Bonner Baker could be seen jumping throughout their entire set. They closed their set with their breakout hit, “Excuse Me.” The band also recently released a video for their song “The Voiceless.” You can catch them on this year’s Vans Warped Tour.

Oh, Sleeper was the next band on this stacked festival lineup. Known for their heartfelt lyrics and messages behind songs,  vocalist Micah Kinard told the audience of the tragic story stemmed in their song “Hush Yael.” The song is about a family in Israel who was hiding from a terrorist attack. While the mother was trying to keep her daughter quiet, she accidentally suffocated her in the process. Kinard stated that he still receives updates from time to time on the family. Oh, Sleeper delivered an action packed set and played songs off their hit albums Son of the Morning and Children of Fire. They also played their newest single, “Oxygen.”

Anyone who has seen Psychostick before can agree that they always have a fun and engaging performance. They have songs for some of people’s favorite things, including beer, beards, and yes, boobs. Incorporate that into rock music and you have your new favorite band. Lead vocalist Rob Kersey interacted with the crowd multiple times, whether it was telling them to get their car keys out, or make their hand into a claw. Seeing people smiling and laughing during a metal festival performance is a rare sight, but will almost always occur if Psychostick is playing.

The Devil Wears Prada performed a flawless set, and played a bunch of crowd favorites, including “Outnumbered” and “Mammoth.” The crowd had long anticipated to hear the dynamic duo vocals of metalcore, Jeremy Depoyster and Mike Hranica, and were clearly pleased. Hranica also rowdied up the never ending mosh pit with his signature screams. Drummer Giuseppe Capolupo could be seen doing multiple tricks and stick flips, and adding on to the sheer brilliance of a TDWP live performance.

The minute Shattered Sun arrived on stage, I knew it was going to be a wild set. The mix of traditional metal elements with some catchy melodic riffs formed a set that would appeal to fans all across the “rock” genre spectrum. Towards the end of their set, a member of the production crew decided that he wanted to add on to the fun. He threw an inflatable into the audience and started surfing around. Everyone was in good spirits and all lifted a hand to help him move through the crowd. Their set was thoroughly enjoyable, both music and experience wise. You can also catch Shattered Sun on this year’s Vans Warped Tour.

Killswitch Engage were welcomed onto the stage with cheers and screams from their die-hard fans. Their commanding and unmatchable presence is exuded by lead vocalist Jesse Leach. Bassist Mike D’Antonio made so many different faces, there could be a sole album dedicated to the crazy faces he made during this performance. Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz managed to jump around stage even with a knee brace. Fans were obviously enjoying every second of their set and having a blast. You could see the crowd constantly singing along with Leach and waving their arms in unison.  Side note: Do you remember that one time Dutkiewicz was on The Price is Right?

Lastly, headliners Anthrax would close out the night. You would think a band in existence for more than 30 years would lose their spark over time, but no, not Anthrax. Whether it was your first or fifth time seeing them, the energy coming from the crowd and band was insane. If you scanned the crowd, you could see people of all ages were grinning from excitement because they would get to see these legends live in a somewhat intimate setting (as compared to an arena festival). The band emerged and gave it their all. Throughout their set, the moshers and crowd surfers came at full speed and didn’t slow down. They played hits from a variety albums, but many favorites came from Among The Living. They played some newer songs off their most recent record, For All Kings as well.  After three decades, Anthrax still manages to create a consistent sound and show throughout all of their albums and performances.

Year after year, the best thing about Texas Independence fest is how it feels like a community gathering, rather than a typical festival. Everyone is simply there to share their love for music. Another year of Texas Independence Fest is now in the books, and we already can’t wait for next year’s fest!

Post and photos by Megan Choi

Did you attend this show? Comment below.

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